Debates of the Senate  
2nd Session, 41st Parliament, Volume 149, Issue 161
  Monday, June 29, 2015
 
Speech: Bill C-377: An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements from Labour Organizations)
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I thought I would join the debate on Motion No. 118, time allocation. What happened here last Friday was quite incredible, so I think it's very important to put on the record what we all think.

I have listened very carefully to what other honourable senators have said this afternoon. Senator Martin told us that this time allocation motion would allow us to have a timely and effective debate, that debate on the bill had been sufficient, that enough witnesses were called and that it was therefore equivalent to a government bill. I beg to disagree. I don't believe we took the process in the chamber.

If it had been a government bill, it wouldn't have sat for such a long time on the Order Paper with no action. We received the bill on October 17, 2013, for first reading. Senator Day pointed out that we amended the bill in its original form and sent it back to the House of Commons. However, when it came back to us, those amendments were no longer there.

The bill was received in October 2013, and a year and a half later, in May 2015, we got it back from the committee. If this was such a pressing issue, if this really was a government-like bill, why did we leave it sit for months and months? It was not managed like a government bill. Suddenly, at the end of June, it's critical that we pass it. We are doing things like issuing time allocation motions and overruling the Speaker, of all things. The Speaker thought about this carefully and in an independent manner. Both Speakers Kinsella and Housakos came to the conclusion that we should not be turning this into a government bill and should not be putting time allocation on Bill C-377.

If this were a government bill, it would have had the involvement of Department of Justice lawyers and officials, and all the drafting errors and unconstitutional aspects of the bill probably would have been caught before it even got here. They would have been caught in the House of Commons. So clearly this bill is not equivalent to a government bill not only because of the way we have managed it but also because of the way it was drafted. The flaws that are contained in it might have been caught long before it got here.

Senator Cordy talked about the breaking of the rules, and Senator Patterson said, "Oh, but we're not breaking our rules," and he quoted a couple of rules from our books. However, the Speaker had looked at the rules and decided that they were perfectly valid and that we should not be doing what we are doing now, namely, trying to convert this bill into government business. The Conservative majority has overruled the Speaker.

When we have rules, there is also the spirit and the intent of the rules. I'm sure Senator Patterson understands that phrase, "spirit and intent." Senator Day talked about how we in the Senate have a certain spirit. We know that here in the Senate we are supposed to be giving things sober second thought. We're supposed to be representing our provinces and the people who have written to us that is, the thousands and thousands from each province who have written to us saying, "This is not a good bill. Please do not pass it as is. It needs to be amended. It is a tremendously flawed bill." All those people have been writing to us and saying, "Don't pass this bill."

The other thing that Senator Day spoke about is setting a precedent of overruling the Speaker. In a sense, what we are also doing is taking retroactive action. We are saying that when this bill arrived here, in a sense, it was a government bill. Are we going to keep doing this? With the next private member's bill, for some reason are we going to change it into government business?

The really big question that has to be asked and that has to be answered by your side, by the Conservative senators in support of this, is this: Why have you decided to do this? Canadians deserve to know why you have decided to do this, because two years ago, 16 of you voted to support amending the bill. I think about five of you abstained. So the bill was amended and sent back to the House of Commons. Why has that position changed? Why are you now pushing to have the original bill passed without any amendments?

That is what Canadians want to know. That's a really big question. I think during this debate the onus is upon you especially those of you who voted in support of amendments last time to get up and defend your position. Why now, all of a sudden, are you saying, "Well, it's okay. It's a government bill now, and I have decided those amendments are no longer necessary"? You should be standing up and defending your position.

An Hon. Senator: Hear, hear!

Senator Dyck: The onus should not just be on our side to get up and say why we think time allocation is not good. It's up to you to get up and defend why you have changed your position.

You know who you are. I have the list in my front of me; I don't know if I should read it or not. You know who you are. Perhaps I will find it and read it in here no, I won't. It's okay to change your mind, but you have to be convinced. You could be convinced by your other colleagues to change your mind, but it's also incumbent upon you, I think, to explain why you've changed your minds. Is it a party position? What has convinced you that you should go forward in this way? That's the thing that sticks in my craw the fact that you have changed your position and have not explained to us or to Canadians, not explained to all those thousands of people who are against this bill, why, all of a sudden, it is necessary to pass this bill in its original, unamended form when we know full well that it's unconstitutional. It breaks the Privacy Act, the majority of unions are against it, and it is simply not right. Can you explain to Canadians why you have done this? That is what you really need to do.

I am definitely not in support of this motion on time allocation. For those reasons, I can't support this motion. We are essentially breaking our rules. Speaker Housakos and Speaker Kinsella have told us that we have done that. We are breaking our own rules for a bill that should not be passed. It makes no sense, people. It makes no sense. Why are you doing this? Can you explain that to me and to Canadians?

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.